Team prepares for first Rugby Day
Published: Monday, March 4, 2013
Updated: Monday, March 4, 2013 17:03
It is well known that the ASU Rugby team is ranked second in the nation, which can only mean that competition against Life University, ranked number one, is sure to be a match to witness.
The Arkansas State Rugby Program and the Student Government Association are teaming up to host the first annual Rugby Day on Thursday, March 7 at 6 p.m. in the Spring River Room of the Student Union to promote the upcoming match.
The evening is designed to bring support to the ASU Rugby team and their national accomplishments, to teach people about the rules of the sport and to promote the home game against Life University on March 9.
The idea for the event came from first-year head coach, Alex Houser.
“Everyone was very supportive of our program and excited about the success we have had, but everyone said pretty much the same thing in that they didn’t know much about the game of rugby,” Houser said. “So I thought it would be good to have an evening where people can come meet some of the players and learn about the game of rugby and our program.”
Houser believes that the athlete’s success should be celebrated and announced.
“The student athletes’ involved in the rugby program put in a tremendous amount of work, both on and off the field, and take great pride in representing Arkansas State around the country,” he said. “I would like for this evening to help spread the word about our program and to encourage people to come out to our matches. I feel as though our team can be a great source of pride not just for the campus community, but for the city of Jonesboro as well.”
The Rugby 101 informational session is open to the public, and anyone with interest in rugby or the successes of the ASU rugby team are encouraged to attend. Members of the team will be present, along with head coach Alex Houser, and will hand out free t-shirts to attendees. Several All-American players including Shaun Potgieter, Pat Sullivan, Zac Mizell and Harry Higgins, will provide information about the rules of the game.
Harry Higgins is a sophomore rugby player of Queensland, Australia who hopes a lot of people will attend the info-session.
“I really want to try and encourage as many people, fathers, kids, brothers, sisters, anyone that is interested, to come out and just learn a few basic things to help understand the game that I love so much. We will help explain the confusing aspects of the game that seem to trouble the most people,” Higgins said. “Internationally, rugby is a very dominant sport that has acquired many talented athletes from all across the globe. It truly is an incredible game to watch once you start to understand it.”
On Friday afternoon, the team will be promoting the game at a booth in the Student Union from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The kick-off against Life University will take place on Saturday, March 9, at 1 pm. During the game, there will be free t-shirts and free BA Burrito meal coupons. Rugby apparel will also be available for sale at a booth set up by Textbook Brokers. In addition, the game has been incorporated into the Greek Week events. Each Greek organization will be in attendance at the game and will be competing in a “Craziest Fan Competition” during half-time.
The team defeated Life University in the national title match last year, with a score of 21-7, earning the second national title in ASU history. Life University will be seeking revenge in Saturday’s rematch.
“We have an incredible rivalry with Life University, along the lines of the Great Ali and Joe Frasier, Red Sox verses Yankee’s, Alabama verses Auburn, Ying to Yang, whatever tickles your berry, but this game is huge,” Higgins said. “It will be one of the best games played in the country this entire season and we hope to play this team in the national championship later this year. Of course, I want to absolutely smash this team, but at the same time I have the utmost respect for these guys as they are truly great competitors.”
Having fans on the sidelines plays a significant role in athletics and the fan base may be a major factor in Saturday’s match against Life University.
“To me, nothing is more insanely heart-warming and inspiring than to see a crowd of ASU supporters on the side lines cheering us on,” Higgins said. “Our committed fans push us each week to perform to our best abilities and to try to represent them as best as we possibly can. To have a major crowd out there against Life University will fill us with more fuel to burn those fires and push us to new limits that we haven’t been to before.”
Stevie Overby, public relations coordinator for the Student Government Association, has helped to promote the event. “This event is essential to show our support of one of the best sports teams on campus. It gives students the opportunity to have a great time while watching what may be a relatively new sport to them,” Overby said. “We encourage everyone to come out and have a phenomenal time.”